November 2013

Top Army officer jailed for taking indecent pictures of children on popular beach

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A top Army officer has been jailed for two and a half years after admitting taking indecent photographs and videos of young children changing on a popular Welsh beach.

The offences at Whitesands near St Davids by Mark Smyth, a 43-year-old Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, followed similar offences he was sentenced for three months earlier at Bristol Crown Court.

Smyth, from Nailsea, North Somerset, was given a three year supervision order in April with a condition of treatment on a sexual offenders’ programme for taking, making and distributing indecent child images after he admitted filming up the skirts of girls and taking photographs of children near his barracks in Tidworth, Wiltshire.

He also secretly filmed children as young as five in swimming pool changing areas and police found serious child abuse images on one of his computers.

Brian Simpson, prosecuting at Swansea Crown Court, said that at Whitesands on August 2 a holidaymaker watched as Smyth pointed his camera at a six-year-old girl being changed into a wet suit.

Smyth had gone to the resort with his wife and their two children.

Lifeguards and the police were called and it was discovered Smyth, still a serving Lieutenant Colonel after being suspended but not dismissed for the earlier offences, had cameras stashed in his car.

Police by this time had been informed he was in breach of a sexual offences prevention order.

He told the officers who took away the cameras he’d tried to conceal: “There’s stuff on that. That’s it for me.”

Mr Simpson said Smyth admitted 16 offences involving the taking of numerous photographs of children in West Wales over four days.

James Hartson, defending, said as a result of getting a prison sentence Smyth would now lose pension rights and other payments totalling £1.1m and would be dismissed from the army.

Judge Paul Thomas, as well as jailing him for 30 months for making and possessing indecent images of children, placed Smyth on the sex offenders’ register indefinitely.

He told the officer: “I accept this is a spectacular fall from grace, you have lost your marriage, a high flying career and status in society and you will lose in a financial sense but you only have yourself to blame.

“It’s time you came to realise you have serious psychological and sexual problems.”

Judge Thomas said it was not for him to comment on the “appropriateness” of the army failing to dismiss Smyth after the earlier offences.

The judge said Smyth used “cunning” by taking his own family on holiday to West Wales during which time he took images of children as young as 18 months old.

He said: “These are the hallmarks of a devious and calculating individual who will not be stopped except by deprivation of liberty.

“You will in due course come out of this sentence, what you make of your life then Mr Smyth is up to you and you alone.”

May 2013

Top ranking army officer secretly filmed children in swimming pools and supermarkets

A top-ranking Army officer who admitted being a Peeping Tom and secretly filming children in swimming pools and supermarkets narrowly avoided jail today.

Lieutenant Colonel Mark Smyth prowled shop aisles near his barracks with his phone in the bottom of shopping baskets taking ‘upskirt’ pictures.

The 43-year-old also spied on children in changing rooms at swimming pools – and made movies from his images.

He uploaded them to film-sharing sites where fellow voyeurs could see them and told police he ‘felt good’ when he got positive feedback.

Smyth also uploaded the sick videos to a Russian paedophile website where he traded the passwords to his images for other images of child abuse.

When caught Smyth described himself as ‘a lovely man’ and insisted he had no sexual interest in children.

But a court heard he changed his name to Mark Radway after his arrest and before his first court appearence.

The offences spanned nearly two years between January 2011 and November 2012 when Smyth was based at Tidworth barracks in Wiltshire.

He was then a serving Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

Smyth pleaded guilty to six counts of taking an indecent photograph of a girl and six counts of distributing an indecent photograph of children.

The soldier also admitted three counts of making an indecent image of a child, and one count of possessing more than 4000 indecent images of children.

Smyth was handed a three-year community order and ordered to undergo the 60-day Thames Valley Sex Offenders group work programme.

He was also banned from being alone with a child, or surfing the internet and deleting web history, for ten years and placed on the sex offenders’ register for five years.

Nadeem Aullybocus (corr), prosecuting, said: “He filmed them in swimming pools, beaches, swimming pools and in public changing room and showers.

“They were all females, they range from the age of five to 16. He said it started as a game of risk, which was all about the thrill and the adrenaline rush.

“He began using the phone in supermarkets to see what he could get. He went into the changing rooms to see what he could get away with.”

He added: “He was adamant in interview he did not have any sexual interest in children.”

Married dad-of-two Smyth, currently living with his family in Nailsea, Somerset, was caught when the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre identified his user name GhengisKhan4321 on the film-sharing website.

In total, his haul of images contained more than 5000 sick photos and videos of children, including hundreds in the two worst categories, and bestiality.

But police say that does not include the thousands he wiped from four computers days before he was arrested.

The videos he made himself feature girls ranging in age from five to 16, in a variety of places, including shops, swimming pools, the beach and even in public showers.

Prosecutors say as well as a camera and a phone he filmed children with a tiny bullet shaped ‘dogcam’ which he dangled over and under doorways.

Rosaleen Collins, defending, said: “This is a case with no contact offending. It is the opposite in fact.”

Judge Geoffrey Mercer said: “Mark Stephen Radway, I have to sentence you for a total of 16 offences which relate to indecent images of children.

“You pleaded guilty to those at the first possible opportunities. The matter of your offending has been outlined to me and the court has heard it.

“The most sickening part of it is that you took those photographs. They are not sexual photographs, they are images of children taken by you in showers, in other instances a camera up their skirt in a supermarket which you have placed on your computer and shared over the internet. You are a family man.

“Quite what caused you to commit those offences perhaps not even you really know. They are shameful offences and you are I expect fully ashamed of them.”

Because of his conviction for child sex offences, Smyth stands to lose more than #1million because of loss of earnings and pension, the court heard.

The Ministry of Defence refused to comment on Radway’s future.

However, a senior source said: “I am sure what will happen now is the the Army will take administrative action against him, which could lead to his dismissal.

“Given the nature of these offences I would be very surprised if he didn’t face that now.”

Speaking after the sentence, DI Mark Coleman, said: “During this period, Smyth targeted young girls in public places to film them, producing indecent images of them without their knowledge.

“This sentence sends a clear message to those engaging in this type of activity, that we wave sophisticated systems that will enable us to identify you.”